Coming Attractions in Film: January 2012

You could keep warm and cozy this January by just going to the movies all the time. However, if you have a life you may have to pick and choose, which could be tough. This month and into February there is a treasure trove of rare treats and great opportunities to see all kinds of film around New England.

By Tim Jackson.

The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground. At The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, January 11–15. See Bill Marx’s Arts Fuse review.

A scene from Abbas Kiarostami's CERTIFIED COPY.

The Boston Festival of Films from Iran. At The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, January 20–29.

The culture and constraints of Iran are generating some of the world’s most creative and inventive cinema. Two of this year’s best films came from Iran, Kiarostami’s Certified Copy and Farhadi’s A Separation. Meanwhile, Jafar Panahi has been jailed and is forbidden to make films for 20 years. His film This is Not a Film is being screened. See for yourself why the new Iranian cinema is so compelling.

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos. At the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, January 20–26, various times.

This huge anime/manga hit in Japan (50 million sold) should have fans of the genre streaming in. For some reason, it hasn’t gotten a commercial release, so if you love this story of the Elric Brothers in search of the Philosopher’s Stone that will help them recover their bodies—well, come and get it. (Dubbed)

The Future Shorts Festival. At The Rattlesnake In Venom Room, 382 Boylston St., Boston, MA, January 22.

This is billed is “the biggest pop up film festival of its kind, showcasing the most exciting short films from around the world,” which means this is an independently put-together selection of eye-opening shorts that has had 140 screenings in micro-cinemas, galleries, warehouses, and small venues in more than 30 countries and 60 cities around the world. A rare under-the-radar treat!

The DocYard Presents Series: Space Coast. At the Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA, January 24.

It’s back. The DocYard is a bi-weekly film and discussion series. Every other Monday from June through August, viewers are invited to gather together to be introduced to a film and connect with one another and the filmmakers. The latter means that the audience is invited to grab a brew nearby following the Q & A. Two of Boston’s best documentary filmmakers Ross McElwee (Sherman’s March and Bright Leaves among many others) and Michel Negroponte (the astonishing I’m Dangerous with Love) teamed for Space Coast, a 1979 film which follows “three residents of Cape Canaveral, Florida, several years after the phasing out of Apollo moon missions.”

Papa John Murphy, motorcycle club president and biblical scholar, with disciple Ross McElwee in SPACE COAST.

Balagan Presents—Breathing a Fatal Stillness: A Visit From Daichi Saito. At the Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA, January 24.

If you like experimental film, filmmakers Jeff Silva and Alla Kovgan keep the tradition alive year after year with this series now at the Brattle. This month they screen a selection of films by Daichi Saito. How can you resist a filmmaker who says “. . . the cinema for me is not truth 24 frames per second . . . it is death 24 frames per second. Or it is life 24 frames per second. Either way, it is saying the same thing. And truth is elsewhere.”

(Some of the) BEST OF 2011. At the Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA, January 25 through February 5.

If you missed any of these great films, there is another chance to see them on the big screen surrounded by other living, breathing humans. My favorite is the double feature of the two great apocalyptic movies. On Thursday, January 26th, the Brattle screens Take Shelter with Melancholia. Both were on my 10 best list—as was the film on Friday, the 27th, Le Havre. The latter had a very limited run, and it is another Aki Kaurismäki masterpiece.

The Best of Ottawa International Animation Festival. At the Institute of Contemporary Art, Northern Ave, Boston, MA, January 27 and 28.

In the world of animation, this festival is a big one. Fortunately, the best shorts tour the country, and you have two chances to see it. The show includes a puppet short, The Last Norwegian Troll narrated by Max von Sydow, along with Stephen Irwin’s award-winning and disturbing short Moxie, the multiple prize winner The Renter, and nine others representing a smorgasbord of topics and techniques.

Isabelle Huppert plays a slightly mad woman in WHITE MATERIAL.

White Material. Featuring Claire Denis in person at the Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, MA, January 28.

Isabelle Huppert plays a slightly mad woman in some unnamed African country; she will not abandon her crumbling coffee plantation even in the midst of a civil war. Denis, who was raised in colonial Africa, puts you right into the action with her. The director has visited this territory before in Chocolat and Beau Travail and has made many other terrific films. This will sell out.

Alloy Orchestra: Wild and Weird. At the Somerville Theater, 55 Davis Square, Somerville, MA, February 4. You mean you’ve never seen the silent short films Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend or Smoke Fairy!? Well, now you can see five mini-masterpieces of weird silent cinema with the Alloy Orchestra Live. Boston’s great silent film composers/performers have written a special score that no doubt will make the experience of these already strange films even more remarkable.

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